My last post heralded a sudden change in my luck. Over the years I’ve been consistently unfortunate in playing games of chance such as bingo, raffles, or the lottery. That’s why I was surprised (shocked) to come up a winner twice in the past month, first for a set of tools from Avina Wine Accessories, and then a quartet of glasses crafted by Luigi Bormioli in Parma, Italy.
What caused my fortunes to improve so drastically? Hanging out with other wine people. No, really! As with the wine tools, I scored the glasses in a random drawing held by a fellow wine writer. In this case, my name was entered into the drawing along with those of everyone else who purchased a pre-sale copy of Debbie Gioquindo’s new book, Tapping the Hudson Valley.
When Debbie tagged me on Facebook to let me know I had won, I felt like I had picked the Daily Double at the racetrack (correctly predicting the winners of the first two races, for you non-horse racing fans.) First of all, the book is a winner. It is a personal guide to the wineries, distilleries, and craft breweries that call New York’s Hudson Valley home. Debbie also calls this region home and has included her own favorite places to visit, along with details for planning the perfect day trip or weekend get-away. It’s like having your own personal tour guide to one of the east coast’s most beautiful areas.
You might not be aware of the fact that winemaking in the Hudson Valley dates back to 1677, when French Huguenots first planted grape vines in New Paltz. Since then, the region has evolved into a center for artisanal craft beverages of all types. The local terroir lends itself to fine wine production thanks to a long growing season that includes more than 3,000 hours of sunlight. Grapes dig that!
Perched as they are on steep, riverside slopes (called palisades here) the vines also benefit from the protective effects of the Hudson River, notably the conduit of maritime breezes from the south, which help modify cooler temperatures. Soils bring their own special gifts to bear, with pockets of shale, slate, schist, and limestone distributed throughout the growing areas.
The Hudson Valley Loves Cab Franc!
This traditional Bordeaux variety thrives in New York State, but it appears to have a close affinity with the terroir of the Hudson Valley. Over the years, local growers have teamed up with researchers at Cornell University to study the grape and its suitability to regional conditions. Now known as the Hudson Valley Cabernet Franc Coalition, the group has advised farmers on proven trellising techniques and canopy management methods ensuring that the variety shows its best features. This means maximizing fruit ripeness and minimizing the overtly “green” capsicum profile that is authentic to the grape.
What Drove Debbie to Write the Book?
She comes by it honestly, as her family lineage traces back several centuries to Tapolca, Hungary where they were wine merchants and vineyard owners. She began her blog Hudson Valley Wine Goddess in 2006 and hasn’t stopped since, earning certifications as Certified Specialist of Wine and Wine Location Specialist (Port and Champagne.) Building on that foundation, Debbie became brand manager for the Hudson Valley Wine Competition, which she expanded to include spirits as well. In 2011 she teamed up with another wine blogger to create Happy Bitch Wines, adding yet another accomplishment to her resume – winemaker.
Her book is of interest to me for two reasons: first, I love to learn about wine regions, everywhere, especially when I can take advantage of a local guide’s experience and knowledge. Second, my husband hails from Newburgh, New York, which lies smack in the center of Debbie’s stomping grounds. I can’t wait to venture out for a wine-centered day trip the next time we visit my sister-in-law!
If you’re interested in learning more about the charms of the Hudson Valley and how to plan a trip that everyone will enjoy, please get yourself a copy of Debbie’s book. It’s de rigueur for any wine/beer/cider/spirits lover looking for a picturesque adventure.
Okay, did I need another set of wine glasses? No. But, as with most wine-related goodies, what’s need got to do with it? Once notified of my victory, I eagerly perused the Luigi Bormioli website to make my selection. As their slogan states, they offer “a glass for every occasion.” That might be an understatement: it leaves me questioning the adequacy of my own collection. Before I cure your suspense and tell you about my selection, let me enlighten you as to what makes these glasses special.
Founded in 1946 in Parma, Italy (home to delicacies like Prosciutto di Parma and Parmigiano cheese) Luigi Bormioli brings traditional glassmaking techniques into the modern age. They specialize in cristallo, what they call the clearest, most brilliant glass that closely resembles fine crystal in appearance and elegance, but which is lead-free. The company’s goal is to forge Italian craftsmanship, distinctive design, high-tech manufacturing processes, and passion for innovation into modern reflections on a storied past.
Most glasses are made using a proprietary blend of lead-free materials called SON.hyx, rendering glassware that is highly resistant to breakage and that can withstand thousands of commercial dishwashing cycles. Luigi Bormioli backs all their products with a 25-year guarantee against chipping on the rim or foot of the glass, and against discoloration due to washing as well.
My Choice: The T Glass for Cabernet/Merlot
Let me go on record – I do not like stemless wine glasses. While they look cool, I find them awkward to hold and I’m not a fan of dirty, smudged glasses that end up warming the wine within (which is what happens when your oily, body-temperature fingers touch the surface.) That said, more statuesque versions can be top-heavy and pose a real threat to your lovely table scape. I’m not one for table scapes but I never look forward to cleaning shards of glass out of the vegetable bowl.
The T Glass from Luigi Bormioli strikes the perfect balance between the two: it is “everything you want in a stemless glass, without everything you don’t.” Yep, I completely agree. The T Glass cuts a lower profile on your table while offering you a tiny stem and a nice, stable foot. You can swirl that glass of wine without leaving paw prints all over it! And the wine stays at the proper temperature, to boot.
My favorite feature of the T Glass, though, is its versatility. Sized perfectly for wine, it would work equally well for serving water, iced tea, or cognac. It’s a super-chic vessel that can be deployed in any number of ways. Perhaps the best part is its affordability: my Cabernet/Merlot T Glasses came in a box of four, priced at $35 retail. Shipping is free in the continental United States. And don’t forget about that 25-year guarantee! What a great gift idea for the wine lovers on your list.
As the weekend approaches, I’m pondering just what should fill those glasses tonight. Here’s a hint: it probably won’t be iced tea or water.
Thanks again, Debbie Gioquindo and Luigi Bormioli, for turning this girl’s luck around!